Weekend Roundup: September 4, 2016.


Heading off to vacation but thought I would put up some interesting articles.!

I always wanted to include a Vomitorium into one of my adventures as a Pythonesque scene. I think we had it all WRONG!

It’s all about materials science.  Photonic Crystals.

Ancient Althan base? The mysterious EYE….

Or, a story worth keeping your EYE on.

Imagine the Flows of Essaence.

Lightning strike??? Maybe 40th lvl  Chain Lightning cast.

Haven’t we learned anything? Don’t #$%& with Elves.

Why? Obviously to untap latent Mentalism powers?

I will never tire of Creepy Clown stories.

Great PIC.

Sorry Peter, all is not LOST.

If only ICE had these production RESOURCES!

Stranger NEW Things.

September book release. Peter Hamilton.

ICE Directors Briefing.

Happy Labor Day!
















Weekend Roundup: July 30th 2016


Wow, July is almost finished…already. I’m off to my annual motorcycle trip with Matt, our other brother and our father. Back on August 3rd, but Peter is back from his trip today!

Those Vikings had some weapons. Axe or Sword.

What’s new with I.C.E.? Keep up with the Director’s Briefing.

Shadow World “Longheads”. Ancestors of the Worim?

Short a player from your group? Utilizing NPC’s.

Or, down to just 1 player?

Living it up like Bilbo.

Want an inexpensive, compact game mat? Try Noteboard.

Book pick of the week. Love those armored Greatcoats!

Magic and technology…really the same!

Have a great weekend!


Rolemaster Weekend Roundup July 23rd 2016


Welcome to RolemasterBlog’s first “Weekend Roundup”. Here we will feature interesting links, stories or news items that might be of interest to RPG’ers or curious minds!

The price of fashion. Getting around in ARMOR.

What a bunch of NERDS!

Celebrities aren’t the only ones PLAYING D&D.

What every growing boy needs…the CRATE OF DOOM!

Cryptonomicon…I don’t think so. Try the CODEX SERAPHINIANUS.

Interesting article on PROTO LANGUAGES.

The Gods of Death in Shadow World. RESURRECTION discussion.

You call that a KNIFE?

Till next time!

Little Viking Horses

This time next week I will be in Iceland riding a rather special kind of horse that has pretty well remained unchanged for 1000 years since they were introduced by the vikings to Iceland.

If you don’t know much about horses then just consider the hardy little horses the 4×4 (SUV?) of the equine world.

Really this is just an excuse as to why I have not prepared a post for the blog today and I won’t be doing one for Friday either. Brian on the other hand will be hard at work producing loads of new and original content for Shadow World.

For me, I have to clean and disinfect all of my riding gear today as they take disease control very seriously in Iceland and you cannot bring horsey equipment into the country unless it has been cleaned and disinfected 7 day in advance.

I just need to keep my fingers crossed that the volcano at Hekla doesn’t erupt before I get there. I don’t mind not being able to leave but I don’t want my flights cancelled on the way in!

http://www.livefromiceland.is/webcams/hekla/ (so far all is quiet but the eruption is long over due!)


It is Game Day! (The Post-It Revolution)

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I have packed up all my game notes and rules and I will soon be on the train to Faerün (so to speak).

The biggest difference in the game this time will be that I have adopted some advice I was given last week. For each major NPC I have given them a post-it note with a mini-flowchart of their tactics and or favoured spells. The idea is that as soon as I pick up a character sheet I can see at a glance what they are most likely to do in the first combat round without having to delve any deeper into the paperwork to look at skills or spell lists.

All it needs is what and the applicable skill total eg “Adr.Spd +70, Sp.Sudden Light” tells me that the NPC will attempt to prepare Adrenal Move Speed and their total skill is +70 whilst also casting the spell Sudden Light. (That is a spell that can stun everyone within its radius if they are not prepared). It is a 5th level spell and in this casters case can be cast in a single round without preparation.

The NPCs objective is obviously to try and create some confusion amongst their opponents whilst also giving themselves options (the adrenal move speed is a like Haste) for the following round.

The next section is split into two, being fight or flight. So having cast that spell I hav enow noted down two options depending on whether the NPC is going to fight on or try and get away. SO in this case it is either “Sp.Invis, Stalk+30” (cast invisibility and then creap silently away) or “Sp.Blur, att.Shuriken +35” (cast a spell that make them harder to hit and then attack with a thrown shuriken with a total attack bonus of +35). So there are two definite different strategies here. I have only sketched out two rounds because if the fight lasts longer than that then any pre-made plan will probably fall to pieces and any NPC that does not react to what the players are doing probably will not live very long.

At the bottom of the post-it is a note of the most significant items then NPC has such as weapons, wands, staves and potions etc.

The point is that from the moment the two parties meet I can tell at a glance what is likely to happen immediately. If the NPC is  a criminal mastermind then chances are he or she will know what their best tactics are. By spending a new minutes before the game session to look at what their best options are then you will do them more justice in the game as well as make the opening sequence fast paced and exciting.

There are additional benefits to this I have noticed. If I am under pressure to decided the NPCs attack I am more inclined to reach for the lightning bolt. Given more time I find that there are some much more interesting and varied spells to use on the same lists. This makes the NPCs power points go further if you are casting a 5th level spell instead of a 12th level spell and they are tossing it off in a single round.

I ran a fight not long ago and after the fight was over I discovered that the, now dead, villain was carrying couple of powerful healing potions. He didn’t use them and it would have changed the nature of the fight if he had and to make it worse he did have an opportunity to do so. In the actual fight he tried to flee but was brought down by the PCs. I removed the potions from the inventory but if I had known immediately that he had them then the nature of the fight would have changed as would the rewards.

So now with the NPCs covered in green personality post-its and orange fight or flight post-its it is time to get my train. I will let you know how it goes.

If anyone can think of a good (roleplaying) use for my blue post-its then please let me know!

You never know when you are going to need an army of mounted archers!

British Horseback Archery Association National Championships 2015
British Horseback Archery Association National Championships 2015

This is the sort of thing we get up to on a Sunday morning down here in deepest darkest Cornwall. When most people are reading the paper or having a late breakfast we are training the next mongolian horde. You never know when you are going to need an army of mounted archers!

It is one thing to discuss on the ICE forums whether this combat round model is realistic or not and (see the Beta 2 Arms Law discussions) it is quite another to see people who really can do these things for real. The thing is that role playing games are just that, a game. They are not realistic. If they were then characters would probably take a single hit and then roll around on the floor crying out for you not to kill them. No one is going to take a full on strike from a battle axe and then carry on adventuring for three more days!

In the same way what I was watching yesterday was not combat but sport. Yes they were drawing and firing five arrows in less than 12 seconds but they were not drawing the bow sufficiently to penitrate armour (mind you it took two people to get some of the arrows out of the wooden stands), they were not firing at dodging  and evading targets either.  On the other hand they were cantering unfamiliar* horses with no hands.

The point of this is that we get to pretend we are horsemen or women or warriors but it is actually very easy and relatively cheap to do many of these things for real (as long as you do not want to go running around killing people). You should look out for events and opportunities to give these things a try. I hope to be able to post a photo of me doing this in the new year!

*Horseback archery is carried out using a pool of horses which you are alloted by random draw. You do not get to use your own horse even if you have one. It is one of the things I like about the sport. The entry point is very low. The same is true of the Modern Pentathlon, another sport I am interested in.


Broadcryers are part of the fabric of life in Waterdeep. These are the newspaper hawkers that we know selling the single page ‘broadsheet’ short scrolls that are popular in Waterdeep.

Short scrolls are a single sided scroll maybe 20cm by 30cm (8″ by 12″) that pass for a newspaper. There are several available and each is printed within the city. The most popular are ‘The Vigilant Citizen’, ‘The Blue Unicorn’, ‘Daily Luck’ and ‘Northwind’.

As a rule they carry tabloid style tittle tattle, scandle and rumours as much as any real news. The writers of the short scrolls are a mix of anonymous perveyors of rumour, often in reality scribes who become privy to private affairs through their work or through overhead snippets of information and semi professional reporters of news. The concept of ‘Journalism’ does not exist but chroniclers of events have been around since the dawn of the written word.

As a GM I absolutely love the short scrolls. Based on the premise that with all tabloid journalism 99.9% is made up crap designed to sell newspapers I can use Broadcryers to bawl out headlines which could be ‘rumours’ fit for investigation by the party of PCs, complete fabrication, events spun off from different PCs operating in the same area or a way of introducing colour and flavour into the world, names of important NPCs and what they are up to.

In the same way that Freddie Starr never consumed any hamsters I am in no way constrained by the truth.

Something that is interesting though is that according to all the official Forgotten Realms publications (City of Splendors: Waterdeep, Blackstaff Tower and Downshadow) these are printed not hand written. The printing press revolutionised fifteenth century Europe. As soon as you allow printing presses into the world you open a pandoras box of potential uses for this technology. If you look through Spell Law ways of mass duplication is something that is not are covered by the normal spell lists. Possibly you could use a Prosaic list for this or research a suitable spell but as it stands this is something that technology can do that magic cannot.

The reason Broadcryers and their short scrolls came to mind is that all week I have been making up stories to fill the short scrolls for my PBP game. When rules, reality and even truth are all optional it is really good fun creating little newspaper stories.


Spears, The Ultimate Weapon

There are often discussions on which is the best or most powerful profession, bsst or most powerful spell or spell list and so on. I am going to share my thoughts on Spears.


A great many professions can only realistically expected to develop one weapon skill. This is especially true of the pure and hybrid spell casters whose points cost are normally along the lines of 9, 20, 20 , 20 and so on. If your concept of the spell caster was layed down in your formative years playing D&D then it is almost instictive to think dagger or staff for your weapon. The lord of the rings movies atleast give Gandalf a sword. I think spears should be the ‘go to’ weapon of choice.

Here is my reasoning.

  1. Most spears are wooden and contain very little metal. This is a good thing for all spell casters excepting the Mentalists for whom it is a non-issue.
  2. As a spell caster you are unlikely to be in the front line during combat but the reach of the spear allows you to take part but at a safe distance, preferable from behind a big burly fighter. (or evenmore prefferably behind a Amazonian warrior princess in little more than a chain mail bikini, or is that just me?)
  3. Talking of the reach of a spear, they get a nice healthy initiative bonus on the first round of combat. If you really need all the bonuses going your way then going first in a fight is no bad thing.
  4. Still talking about the reach of a spear, no one seems to carry 10′ poles any more but a spear is the next best thing.
  5. At least once you will give in to the urge to use your pole vault skill using your spear. I know this isn’t just me as there is an illusionist in Heroes and Rogues (Ryssa Tyrpal) who does exactly that!
  6. If your version of Arms Law allows it then you can use your spear with your shield (-10OB for one handed in the RMC Arms Law).
  7. The spear is a sort of cross over weapon. If you look at the similar weapons table  assuming your GM allows you to throw your spear at half skill then it is worth carrying some javelins (or Pilum) as these are similar. Your one weapon skill now allows you both a melee and ranged weapon.
  8. Spears are similar to quarter staff or the wizards friend as I like to call it. Everyone knows that the most powerful daily items seem to be either rings or staves so if you are lucky enough to get a magic staff at least you can fight with it! If you are dumped in the middle of nowhere with no kit then you can probably find a big stick you can use as a staff (or failing that as a club as a spear is also similar to cudgel)
  9. Spears are similar to lances! Oh yes, if the party is going in a mounted charge against that knot of orcs then you can join in the fun. You can take this even further, a bit of displacement here, blade turn there, a shield spell and an illusionary (for the non-mentalists) set of plate and you can even go jousting.
  10. In total a spear is ‘similar’ to 10 different weapons from pilums to pole arms but importantly none of them are swords. Every Tom, Dick and Harry carrys a sword so when it comes to dividing up the treasure they all fight over the swords and bows but your spear skill gives you a massive selection most of which no one else can use.
  11. For Mentalists, of all sorts, spear, shield plus chain or plate armour and you can go carousing with the fighters and no one bats and eyelid. Try that in wizards robes and it is a real conversation killer. The wizard failing to chat up the barmaid is frankly embarrassing, a fighter failing to chat up the barmaid is par for the course and no one will give it a second thought.

This was going to be ten good reasons for carrying a spear but as you can see the spear gets 11 or 10. What more can I say?

Researching Riddles Online -Fail!

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You know how sometimes online one search leads to another and another and before you know it you a n a completely different track? I was thinking about riddles and bits of interesting nonsense for an NPC to spout now just to make him really annoying to the party.

At the same time I was on the Guild Companion website to get the email address to submit articles to. There appears to be two conflicting email addresses; one on the contact us page and one on the  about page. I have used the contact page address but if I get no response I will try the other. While I was there I glanced through the archives for any articles on the Forgotten Realms as they have published material before for RMSS. In the archives there was an article on alternative verse. I was looking for something more along the lines of Edward Lear.

Anyway, back to my non-productive searching and I ended up on the Wikipedia page for “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck”. I have included a screenshot below. I know a picture is meant to be worth a thousand words and including a picture of a woodchuck was useful as I didn’t know what one looked like but the second picture! Really? Is there anyone so divorced from the outside world that they had to label a picture as ‘wood’. The more I look at this the more disturbing it is. Do woodchucks really have chainsaws? I would have thought they were more used to wood in its more natural form with the green bit at the top and the little thin bits disappearing into the ground to suck up the water. Maybe the image is of a woodchuck takeaway service, sort of ‘just eat’ for woodchucks?

screenshot of wikipedia with really stupid images inserted
Not all pictures are worth 1000 words

Anyway there is no actual point to this post beyond having to have a rant and get that off my chest. If you are waiting to see some of the character sheets for Little Miss Defensive I can tell you that the Seer one is done so far and I hope to have some comparative ones done by the end of the week.